After two years this thread on history does not seem to have done very far. I will add one more item and see if it helps to stimulate the discussion. Over and out!--Ron Price, Tasmania
In the obituary of Sir Vivian Fuchs--and found in Wikipedia--which appeared in The Times on Saturday 13 November 1999 just after I retired from the teaching profession and moved to Tasmania's oldest town, George Town, I obtained some useful information about an event that had interested me and had taken place way back at the time of my puberty in 1957. I shall tell a little of that event drawing on this obiturary statement and then connect it to some aspects of personal meaning, if not of meaing to other participants at this site. For it is personal meaning which gives, for many, history's significance and enables one to take part, vicariously in a way, in the great events of the day. Without this personal meaning history is often just a pile of dry old bones.
In November 1957 Sir Vivian Fuchs and Sir Edmund Hillary set out from Shackleton Base to cross Antarctica. Vivian Fuchs was a patient and painstaking master of detail which ensured that the first surface crossing of the Antarctic, in 1957-58 was successfully concluded, despite something of a disagreement/arguement/contratemps between Fuchs and Sir Edmund Hillary along the way.
On November 24 1957 the crossing was begun in six tracked vehicles with dogs and aircraft in support. Throughout what was to prove one of the "worst journeys in the world", Fuchs maintained absolute discipline and high morale, showing neither depression at delay nor elation at progress. The order in which the cavalcade moved forward never varied: Fuchs was always the leader either in his Sno-Cat, Rock'n'Roll, or in the heavily canvassed areas, probing the way in one of the lighter Weasels.
Meanwhile, the New Zealanders made such good time that Hillary took the controversial decision to press on with his Ferguson tractors beyond the last supply depot to the Pole itself. They reached Amundsen-Scott Base in a spectacular dash on January 4, 1958, while "Bunny's Boys" (as the Americans called them) were still nearly 400 miles away, labouring to make up time lost in the appalling terrain between Shackleton and South Ice.
Leaving the Pole on January 24, Fuchs's party completed the first land crossing of the White Continent in 99 days, one fewer than their leader's original estimate. Along the way a substantial scientific programme had been accomplished, including seismic soundings and a gravity traverse.
Two weeks before the crossing was begun the funeral of Shoghi Effendi took place in London(9 November 1957), an event of more than a little significance in the history of the Baha'i Faith. What was to prove one of the "worst journeys in the world" for the Baha'i community had just begun as it had for
this crossing of Antarctica two weeks later. Shoghi Effendi had been "called by sorrow and a strange desolation of hopes into quietness."
I am reminded, as I write this, of so much of the history of Antarctica and of the history of the Canadian Arctic and the Arctic regions in Siberia and Scandinavia--the circumpolar regions to use an apt phrase--where I had spent some time myself forty years ago; I am reminded, too, of a quotation I keep from a letter written by Henry Adams and found in his "Letters of Henry Adams: 1838-1918, Volume 1," Houghton Mifflin, 1930, p.324:
"The inevitable isolation and disillusionment of a really strong mind--one that combines force with elevation--is to me the romance and tragedy of statesmanship."
As a teacher of history myself over 30 years and student of the subject in primary, secondary and university courses as far back as 1955 over half a century ago now, I have found a strange synchronicity between events in one's personal life and those in one's wider society and it is this synchronicity which adds an immense flavour of meaning to life, to the past and to one's anticipation of the future.--Ron Price, George Town, Tasmania, Australia.
P.S. Seven months ago, on 18 Janaury 2007, a celebration of the 50th anniversary of Scott Base (New Zealand) in Antarctica took place. Sir Edmund Hillary, along with a delegation including the Prime Minister, flew to the station.